Tennis serves up Pioneers


Josh Purnell/ Courier Staff

Courtney Lubbers readies for a return.

Bradley Piros, Courier Staff

MACOMB Ill. – The Western Illinois women’s tennis team heads back to the courts for the first time in two weeks tomorrow afternoon. They will be heading up to Vermillion, South Dakota to take on the University of Denver Colorado Pioneers.

Last time out, the Leathernecks clinched a Summit League Tournament berth with their win over Oral Roberts University. It was Western’s second straight win after they beat the Jack Rabbits of South Dakota State University. They now sit at a nice 10-7 on the season.

The Leathernecks took both of those wins with a score of 6-1. But it was the matchups at ORU that really mattered the most. Such a great performance pleased head coach Mirko Bjelica, as he went on to say;

“We did what we had to this weekend in order to make the Summit League Tournament. The girls did it in singles again, excellent effort from everyone in the lineup.” 0Bjelica said.

The Golden Eagles took the early 1-0 lead as they won in doubles competition, but sophomore Laura Ballesteros would tie things up after her 6-4, 6-2 victory in the No. 3 spot. The Leathernecks kept rolling though, as freshman Mary Bjelica took the win in the No.6 spot (6-2, 6-2) to take the 2-1 lead. She is now 12-1 in singles competition this season.

After that the Leathernecks never turned back, winning four straight singles matches to clinch the match. Continuing the winning spirit was sophomore Natalia Bravo with the win in the No. 1 spot with scores of 6-2 and 6-4.

Junior Courtney Lubbers earned the match-clinching point as she won 6-0 and 6-4 in the No. 2 spot. Junior Cary Milanes and freshman Ana Bjelica both played out their matches, winning in similar fashion (4-6, 6-2, 10-7).

This win put the Leathernecks in the Summit League Tournament for only the third time, and the first time since 2014, when they were swept 4-0 by the Fort Wayne Mastodons.

Last time out for Denver was against the University of New Mexico, when the team traveled out west to Albuquerque and won 4-0. It was their ninth-straight win. They’ll be playing the University of Nebraska-Omaha today, and then go on to play the Leathernecks.

Omaha is sitting at first in the Summit League, followed by Denver and the University of South Dakota Coyotes. The Leathernecks sit at fourth but would most likely move up to third with a win over Denver.

Either way, the Leathernecks are looking to finish out the season strong, and a win over Denver would be a boost of confidence.

Western will finish up their regular season at home against the University of Quincy Hawks. The match will begin at 9 a.m. next Saturday.

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